Over the years, I’ve written many articles about the wonderful superfoods that I’ve fallen in love with and use as ingredients in our plant-powered skincare products. However, there’s a particular superfood that will forever hold a special place in my heart: turmeric.
I mean, what’s not to love about this spice? It just seems to help with everything. Hyperpigmentation? Apply turmeric to your face. Upset stomach? Ingest turmeric. Pain and joint problems? Inflammation? Turmeric can help.
Does that pique your interest? Well, you’re in luck! Today, we are going to discuss more about turmeric and what it can do for your skin.
History of turmeric
Turmeric has a really rich history, dating back over 4000 years. Some analyses even suggest that turmeric has been utilized in New Delhi, India as early as 2500 BCE.
Around 500 BCE, turmeric became an important part of Ayurvedic medicine, which is an ancient Indian system of healing. This practice relies on a natural and holistic approach to physical and mental health. Its treatments include a combination of medicine mainly derived from plants (such as turmeric), diet, exercise and overall lifestyle.
According to Ayurveda literature, turmeric is thought to help with many ailments ranging from gastrointestinal issues to arthritis. Turmeric paste is used to heal wounds and protect against infection. It is believed to give a healthy glow to the skin.(1)
Turmeric was also used in India as part of Hindu and Buddhist religious ceremonies. In both Hinduism and Buddhism, turmeric is a symbol for purity, fertility, luck and the sun.
As a yoga practitioner and spiritual person in general, I’ve always been deeply fascinated by the history of turmeric and its meanings. This is why I have such a deep appreciation for this special spice and even included it as an ingredient in our Graydon Skincare lineup.
A little bit about turmeric
India produces almost all of the turmeric in the world. Turmeric is so integral to Indian culture that India uses 80% of the world's turmeric. Turmeric is what gives Indian curry its famous yellow colour, but it is more than just a popular Eastern spice. In fact, it’s used as a colourant in many processed foods. You can also find turmeric in a bunch of delicious vegan recipes. And given my background as a vegan chef, I am more than ecstatic to experiment with it.
Historically speaking, turmeric is used as a traditional herbal medicine in Ayurveda. It is also widely utilized in other Eastern Asian medical systems, such as traditional Chinese and Indian medicine.
Today, turmeric is promoted as a dietary and health supplement that can help with a plethora of conditions, including arthritis, digestive issues, allergies, inflammation, infections and more. These benefits stem from a specific component called curcumin, as well as other closely related substances known as curcuminoids. These supplements are made from the dried underground stem of turmeric, and they typically include a mixture of curcuminoids.
Skin benefits of turmeric
Not only is turmeric a wonderful spice with great meanings in different cultures and religions, it is also considered a superfood. Like I mentioned earlier, it seems to help with so many things, including skincare!
So what makes turmeric a must-have ingredient in your skincare routine?
If you suffer from acne and breakouts, then you might find turmeric’s anti-acne effects to be particularly interesting and beneficial.
As you may already know, there is a colony of microorganisms living on your skin and they make up what is known as the skin microbiome. The microbiome is crucial to your skin health and how it behaves. However, sometimes, this microbiome can act up and bacteria can overgrow or “bad” bacteria may wreak havoc. In particular, the P. acnes bacteria is responsible for causing some of your breakouts.
In order to keep these P. acnes bacteria in check, you might want to enlist the help of turmeric. During a 2013 study,(2) researchers noted that by applying turmeric to the face, the activity of P. acnes bacteria was inhibited, leading to less acne.
Specifically, turmeric has been shown to help with atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.
Atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, is a skin disorder where your skin gets red and itchy. It is a chronic condition, meaning that it’s long lasting and will come and go for years throughout your life. It happens when your immune system goes into overdrive and triggers inflammation that damages your skin barrier.
While there is no cure for atopic dermatitis, there are several ingredients that you can utilize to keep it in check. In particular, turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that are able to alleviate the symptoms of this skin condition.
A 2015 study(3) examined this effect in a pool of 360 participants with eczema. After 3 months, the researchers found that topically applying turmeric on the skin of these individuals helped to reduce swelling, scaling, itching and erythema. They concluded that turmeric, together with other plant-based ingredients, can be used as a promising treatment of eczema.
Psoriasis is another skin condition that is rooted in inflammation. If you have psoriasis, you’ll experience dry, red, itchy, scaly patches on various parts of your body. Just like atopic dermatitis, it will come and go throughout your life, and there is no known cure.
That being said, despite not being able to cure it, turmeric is able to alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. A 2019 study(4) revealed that the curcumin in turmeric is able to modulate the phenomena involved in the inflammatory and proliferative characteristics of psoriasis.
Wound healing effects
You’ve probably never thought about it, but wound healing is actually a complex process that consists of several phases depending on the type and severity of the wound.
Curcumin can be used as a phytotherapeutic agent for wound healing, as it can stimulate the growth factors needed to form and heal scars.(5) It seems to be able to do this thanks to a mixture of antioxidant, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. It also increases connective tissues, the formation of new blood vessels and enhances synthesis of collagen, which is crucial for healthy skin.(6)
Turmeric In Graydon Skincare products
If you want to add the benefits of turmeric to your skincare routine, you can experience the magic of this Ayurvedic ingredient with Putty.
Our soothing moisturizer for dry skin, is made with a nourishing blend of nutrient-packed superfood ingredients to calm your skin. In addition to turmeric, Putty is formulated with colloidal oatmeal, carrot seed oil and cocoa butter. This complex of superfood ingredients, supercharged by turmeric, will feed and nourish your skin while strengthening your skin barrier.
Turmeric will always hold a special place in my heart.
This powerhouse ingredient has over 4000 years of history as an ancient medicine. In the skincare world, turmeric can help with acne, inflammation and wound healing.
And of course, it makes for one heck of a foodie ingredient as well. Personally, I love to add a bit of turmeric into my daily smoothies to reap the benefits of the curminoids. My dear friend Bonnie Flemington, a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, even has a great superfood latte recipe that I absolutely adore and encourage you to try!
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